Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday #37: Finding Calm

The last Sunday of February.

Somehow, the last Sunday in February is upon us.  I can't believe two months of 2017 are almost over!  It's been a whirlwind of a busy week.  After getting home from lab today, my partner/boyfriend and I did housework together before heading out for a ramen dinner.  I think it's a common misconception that moving in means you automatically spend more time with your significant other.  We haven't had much time together lately because of our busy schedules so it's nice to find some calm and time in each other's company.  We're finishing our weekend with a relaxing, quiet night at home. 


I started off the week by student hosting a visiting professor, followed by a dinner in honor of an annual special seminar at my university.  On Wednesday, I went to an outreach event with my friend Betty in support of engaging girls in the STEM fields.  It was my first outreach event and an incredibly rewarding experience.  The event put young girls in touch with women in STEM and aimed to deliver the message that women in science were multifaceted (and that they could be whatever they wanted!).  I wish there had been more of such events when I was younger!  I finished out the week with lab meeting and another event on Thursday.  By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, I was too darn wiped after a full day in lab to do anything, but go right home.  Suffice to say I only made it twice to the gym this week.  Oops. 


I think it's time I upgrade my DSLR.  As a student, a full frame camera is out of the question, but I'm thinking of getting a better crop-sensor DSLR from Canon.  My Canon 1000D is about 8 years old and the technology is horribly out of date.  I'm thinking of using a little bit of my tax refund towards a better camera body so I can create more professional quality work.  I'm sharing a few candids from the weekend; the noise in the photo taken in low light is pretty obvious!  What camera do you use or would you recommend? 

Trevor in natural light.
Adam. ISO 1600. 


In this coming week, I do my first time-for-prints shoot with a singer who contacted me on Instagram.  I'm nervous about working with a complete stranger, but it's experience I need!  My photo buddy is coming with me since my partner's out of town on a conference that week.  In about two weeks, I'm shooting headshots at my university, so it's going to be quite a few weeks of pushing outside my comfort zone.  Wish me luck!


•  Kristabel shared her experience as a black blogger in the UK.  A VERY important post that stresses the need for diversity and better representation because they 100% impact our expectations.
•  Hanh left her job to pursue her dream of being a full-time videographer.  An inspiring post on not giving up on yourself and chasing what your heart wants.

Tell me about your week!  x

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday #36: Spring

February blooms in Los Angeles.

Southern California has gotten a lot of rain this winter season so things have been blooming and green lately.  ICYMI, we've had a severe drought for the past few years.  Southern California really can't handle the precipitation because we had a huge storm and calamity ensued.  I never complain about rain, though.  I hope we get more of it!


I've never been one for Valentine's Day because I think it's mostly a commercial holiday.  My boyfriend and I decided to keep it low key and make dinner together.  We had ribeye steak, potatoes, and sauteed kale with mushrooms.  I've eaten kale pretty much every day this week because its such a tasty way to eat vegetables!  I did get roses which I was very surprised about because we don't really celebrate the day.

Garlic bread, baked potato, sauteed kale with mushrooms, and ribeye steak!


This weekend was a lot of last minute plans.  I was supposed to go to a lounge on Saturday, but we all had to bail for different reasons.  In grad schools, our advisors are always pushing us so the work is never ending.  Living in a house of graduate students means we're oscillating from stressor to stressor.  However, on Saturday, my boyfriend and I got out of the house to grab dinner with our roommates at an ale house.  We had company at our house afterwards and I managed to grab a fantastic candid shot of our friend Nick. 

The ale house.

A candid photograph of Nick.

I've taken an easy Sunday.  Tomorrow is President's Day, an institute holiday at my university, but most of us will probably still go into lab.  Let's be real, who feels like celebrating in our current climate?  I'm off to make dinner (we're having sauteed vegetables and deep dish pizza from Giordano's in Chicago) and get some work done before the night's over.  

Hope you're all having a good Sunday!  What did you get up to on Valentine's Day and/or this week?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday #35: Almost Halfway

Lumière & Lens Sunday Post

Valentine's Day is coming up this Tuesday which marks the halfway point of February!  For some reason, those three less days at the end of this month make it seem much shorter.  I've never been one for the holiday.  The most Valentine's Day thing I did (and will do) was seeing 50 Shades Darker this evening with the girls.  It was pretty awful, but we went to see it for laughs so no regrets.


Speaking of entertainment, I finished Westworld this past month.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  Every part of this show is pure masterful artistry.  Aside from its entertainment value, Westworld is introspective and incredibly layered.  I like it even more than Game of Thrones and I'm a person who doesn't really watch TV.  I'd also recommend the Westworld score by composer Ramin Djawad; I've been listening to it nonstop and it's extremely soothing to the ears. 


Things have been a little quieter on the blog front lately, largely due to my lifestyle.  I am pretty much within the same 10 block radius all the time which isn't exciting to write about (or for you to read).  I have post ideas jotted down, but also suffer from some writer's block.  Ah!  In other blog news, I installed Disqus and then removed it.  I have issues from syncing to no comment link showing up on new posts.  Awful. 


In line with my resolutions, I've managed to make it to the gym 4 times this week.  I squatted 135 lbs, which is a personal record for me!  I can't extol the virtues of resistance training enough: I'm stronger, bigger, and more muscular.  I love working on getting stronger and seeing what my body can do.  Definitely starting this Monday off with a workout!


•  Improve your communication by removing these words from your vocabulary.
•  Scarphelia's Final Act exposes the darker under belly of blogging.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

5 Personal Lessons From Blogging

Because it is what it is, you know?

While Lumière & Lens is just a few months over a year old, I'm a veteran blogger from the blogging days of yore.  You know, the days when we took outfit photos in our bedrooms, photographed products on flowered bedsheets, and created our internet spaces before blogging as a career was an option.  In other words, I'm old I've been around a bit and there's a few lessons I've learned along the way that I'd like to share!

1.  Growing a thicker skin is essential.

I am very accepting of constructive criticism, but not hating for the sake of hating.  Fact: I will not be everyone's cup of tea.  While I get mostly positive feedback about blogging, I've also been on the receiving end of derision, disinterest, or outright judgment.  I've held back in the past, but now I do my own thing because I can't let the fear of judgement hold me back from pursuing what I love.  In the immortal words of Kevin Gnapoor, "Don't let the haters stop you from doing your thang."  If you've dealt with the same, here's an interesting article my friend sent me on dealing with negativity.

2.  Be authentic and write from a real place.

In my opinion, writing shines most when it's written from the heart.  When I took the leap and wrote vulnerably (1, 2, 3), you responded with your own stories.  I try to write the blog I want to read and that's usually real stories from people.  I think vulnerability and authenticity are often equated with weakness, but it takes courage to let ourselves be seen at our most human of moments.   

3.  Rules don't need to be followed.

Blogging can now be a lucrative career and there are a lot of blog trends/cliches that trickle down from the top.  I've seen myriad posts with rules on how to run a blog, keeping your blog from being "all over the place," curating the perfect Instagram, etc., that I now largely ignore.  My life isn't about one thing so I won't write within a single genre.  I think hyper-curation removes realness and spontaneity.  I'm a multifaceted human being and I want Lumière & Lens to reflect that.  I've been followed/unfollowed a lot (see #1), but I deeply appreciate the ones who stick around. 

4.  There is room for everyone.

Unlike the entertainment industry, blogging has representation from all walks of life (though that's not necessarily reflected at the top tier).  I enjoy having a platform that lets me interact with people of different ethnicities from far flung areas of the globe.  In a time where Asian stories are just starting to come into mainstream entertainment, I'm thrilled to find a platform with so many people who look like me as well as people who do not. 

5.  Inspiration is everywhere. 

A diverse blogosphere means viewpoints from all points of life.  I'm always learning something new from my fellow bloggers whether it's their culture, photography techniques, or talking points on intersectional feminism.  I very often come across a post and think, "Well, why haven't I thought of that before?"  Sometimes, all it takes is seeing life through fresh eyes to inspire you to push yourself to grow!

What are some lessons you've taken away from blogging?

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Sunday #34: Super Bowl Sunday


It's Super Bowl Sunday!  My roommates planned a party this afternoon; I'll be popping in and out because I don't sit still!  It's a good day for indoor activities because it's quite uncharacteristically dreary for Southern California today.  Luckily, I managed to get some lifestyle photography for the blog done yesterday (see above) because the light's dodgy today. 


I went to our university's biannual career fair this week.  This year, I did some shopping and invested in some pieces for my closet.  Shopping for business professional/casual clothing was more difficult than I had imagined.  A lot of suits just look frumpy on me, especially with how wide pant legs are.  However, I did end up finding a few pieces (post coming soon).  Overall, it was a good time for me to update my resume again and get talking to recruiters.  I used to think that a chemistry PhD limited me to lab bench related jobs, but there are a lot of different career opportunities out there for STEM degrees, which is reassuring.


My Saturday was jam packed.  I had a photoshoot with my friend Tami who is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen!  I'm sharing one of many good shots.  My friends have been telling me to start charging for services, but I'm technically disallowed with my graduate student contract.  At the moment, I photograph and create art based off what inspires me and my whims.  I do it because I 100% enjoy it.  Which brings me to a message I got on Instagram this past week from a complete stranger requesting a drawing of him (sent with a heart emoji, no less).  I asked if it was for commission or for free and this person had the nerve to say FREE.  Can you believe that?  If you like my work enough to want a custom piece, you would also value my effort, talent, and time to compensate me for it! 

Me, Tami, and Betty on location (L).  Tami strikes a pose (R). 

It's early afternoon now and people will be arriving soon.  I'm going to keep it short this Sunday.  Now, I'm off to eat my weight in chips and guacamole . . .

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Portfolio: Elizabeth

50 mm portrait, nifty fifty, portraiture
50 mm lens, 50 mm portrait, nifty fifty
50 mm lens, 50 mm portrait, nifty fifty

Happy Thursday!  Things on my end are pretty busy at the moment so my posting on Lumière & Lens has been quite sparse.  I'm aiming to start batch photographing / drafting.  If you have tips, please do leave them in the comments!  Now, on to the photos!

Meet Elizabeth, a fellow scientist, artist, and freckle-kissed friend.  She is the first person I booked to photograph in the new year and one of my favorite subjects.  I love how her red hair sets off her luminous green eyes and she's an absolute delight to direct (i.e., she takes it very well).  Our friends think she resembles Jennifer Lawrence a bit, too!  This is the shoot in my review of my straightener from Irresistible Me, by the way.  Look at that waterfall of hair I got to work with!  

I have two more shoots booked and then I'm going to just cool it for awhile because I'll have worked on photography for five weekends in a row.  I have the two "official" gigs in late February and March.  They're sneaking up on me!  Time is fleeting.  Hope your week is going well!